DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 April) – Mindanao has 163 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of April 21 with Davao City topping the count at 97, according to records collated by MindaNews from the Department of Health (DOH) regional offices in Mindanao and the Ministry of Health in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Among Mindanao’s six regions, the Davao region topped the count with 113 cases, followed by Region 12 or Soccsksargen with 16, Zamboanga Peninsula with 12, Northern Mindanao with 11, BARMM with nine and Caraga with two.
The DOH-Davao’s Center for Health Development reported 113 confirmed cases, 16 deaths and 59 recoveries as of April 21 in the Davao region.
Davao City, the epicenter of COVID-19 cases not only in the region but also in Mindanao because of the “Araw ng Davao celebration Six-Cock Derby” held last month despite the advisory against mass gatherings from Health Secretary Francisco Duque and the cancellation of Araw ng Dabaw activities by Mayor Sara Dtuerte, topped the regional count with 97 cases, followed by Davao del Norte with nine, Davao Oriental with three, and Davao del Sur and Davao del Oro with two each. Only Davao Occidental has recorded no confirmed case.
Davao City’s 97 cases account for 59.5% of Mindanao’s total and 85.84% of the Davao region’s.
On April 13, health officials expressed optimism that the COVID-19 contagion in the city had been contained as the increase in new cases ranged only from two to four cases a day, sometimes even zero.
From April 13 to April 21, however, 23 new cases were reported in the region, all in Davao City.
From 90 on April 13, the number of confirmed cases rose to 113 on April 21. Davao City’s 74 as of April 13 is now 97.
Transmission slowed down
Dr. Leopoldo Vega, chief of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the main referral hospital for COVID-19 cases, said DOH-Davao had “made it clear that we have a community or local transmission in our area.”
“It’s a community-type of infection where sources of infection could not be linked,” he told MindaNews on Monday.
Of the six new cases reported between Satuday and Sunday, four are “family members of two different families,” he said.
In one family, he said, one son got infected while in the other, it was the father who was infected.
On Monday last week, Vega told MindaNews, “it looks like we’ve contained the contagion.”
Asked on Monday this week if he spoke too soon, Vega replied: “by containment, it means that we have slowed down the transmission of the virus even if we see an increase in positive cases in a week.”
He said the mitigation strategy through the preventive actions of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) interventions are working.
“We are still in the middle of a storm and the virus is still very much around. If not contained, there could have been an exponential rise of positive COVID patients double or triple the number in a week,” Vega said.
Davao City stats
Over Davao City Disater Radio, Mayor Sara Duterte gives daily updates on the number of patients admitted at the SPMC and the facilities for those exhibiting mild symptoms of COVID-19, the number of positives but no breakdown on the number of cases per barangay.
On Monday, she read the SPMC’s April 18 figures on confirmed cases per administrative district: 28 in Talomo district, 24 in Buhangin district, 11 in Poblacion, five in Agdao, four in Toril and one each in Bunawan, Calinan, Paquibato and nine from “outside Davao City.” On April 18, the city had 83 positives out of 99 in the region. By April 21, that number would reach 97 out of 113.
The mayor also explained that the new clustering scheme for the barangays, allowing the use of Food and Medicine passes only within the cluster, was done “para sa inyong tanan” (for all of you).
“Gibuhat namo na because dunay mga areas nga increasing ang ilahang problema sa COVID-19 and we want to protect other areas sa ingon-ani nga situation” (this was done because there are areas with increasing problems of COVID-19 and we want to protect other areas from this situation,” she said.
Duterte placed the city under community quarantine on March 15 and enhanced community quarantine on April 4, supposedly to end on April 19 but extended to April 26.
On Tuesday, Duterte cited Talomo, Buhangin and the poblacion as COVID-19 hotspots.
In the evening, the city government announced through its FB page – two hours apart — that the response group of the Davao City COVID-19 Task Force imposed a lockdown of Puroks 3, 4 and 7 of Barangay 23-C and Purok 8 of Barangay 21-C to “preempt a possible massive spread of the infection in the area due to a confirmed positive case.”
A statement by the City Government of Davao said around 56 individuals in Barangay 23-C “were also evacuated and brought to a PUI center for quarantine.”
The announcements also urged everyone to “avoid” Barangay 23-C and Barangay 21-C.
No new cases outside DC
Outside Davao City, however, there has been no new COVID-19 case recorded in Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental since end of March, in Davao del Norte since April 3 and in Davao de Oro since April 7.
Since April 7 when the regional total was 84 and Davao City’s was 68, the five Davao provinces have recorded no new cases. All new cases since then have been recorded only in Davao City. (See table below)DAVAOREGION.Summary1
The city became the epicenter of COVID-19 as several confirmed cases were traced to attendance at the six-cock derby held last month at the New Davao Matina Gallera, or exposure to someone who went to the derby.
Determining exactly how many confirmed cases in Davao City are part of the Matina Gallera cluster has been made difficult because the DOH-Davao gives daily updates on numbers only with no case histories.
In its virtual presser on April 21, DOH-Davao Assistant Regional Director Lenny Joy Rivera claimed they released histories of Cases 1 to 60. But DOH Davao actually released the histories of Cases 1 to 6 only. The mayor of Mati, Michelle Rabat, gave histories of Cases 7 and 8.
Despite repeated demands to release case histories of COVID-19 positives as the other regional offices in Mindanao and the BARMM are doing, the DOH-Davao has not released the histories from Case 9 to what has now reached Case 113.
Matina Gallera cluster
In its last press release on April 18, when the total regional count was 99, the DOH-Davao reported that 32 cases in the region or 32.32% were linked to the derby: 26 “had exposure at Matina Gallera” and six “were exposed to confirmed cases who went to Matina Gallera.”
Nineteen others were “exposed to suspected COVID-19 patients” but DOH-Davao has yet to explain what this means and if the “suspected COVID-19 patients” include those who went to the derby or had close contact with those who were at the derby.
The DOH-Davao did not provide a breakdown of the 32 cases in the region that it said are linked to the derby as of April 18. But MindaNews had earlier checked with the local government units in the neighboring areas in the region and found 11 cases with histories of exposure to the Matina Gallera or had close contact with persons who went to the derby: eight in Davao del Norte, two in Davao del Sur and one in Davao de Oro.
Thirty-two less 11 leaves at least 21 cases in Davao City linked to the derby as of April 18 – persons who were at the derby and those who were infected by people who were at the derby. By April 21, however, the total regional count had reached 113 from 99 on April 18.
Ouside Davao City, at least 22 confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to the derby have been reported outside Davao City: eight in Davao del Norte, three in Cotabato City (see other story), two in Davao del Sur, two in North Cotabato and one each in Davao de Oro, South Cotabato, General Santos, Maguindanao, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte and Butuan City. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)